Friday, 31 January 2014

Calbick and Gunton have it half-there ‒ back to the 2008 Sunday Times

Suspicion that Australia’s rock-bottom energy prices are largely responsible for it ‒ with as Zhang et. al have demonstrated the lowest allowable per capita emissions in the world owing to its extremely low-phosphorus soils ‒ having actually the highest per capita emissions, yet being treated with extreme lenience by all amongst:
  1. international treaties on global warming
  2. international environmental lobby groups
  3. academic works on the problem of greenhouse emissions
have been with me for a very long time.

However, it is only now that Thomas Gunton and K.S. Calbick have provided the first evidence that Australia’s excessively low energy prices are the cause of its high emissions, as much as its low population densities and dependence on energy-intensive metals. In a new study titled ‘Differences among OECD countries’ GHG emissions: Causes and policy implications’, they show that:
  1. energy prices alone are by far the best predictor of total greenhouse gas emissions
  2. that if Australia raised energy prices to the highest levels in the OECD, it would reduce its greenhouse emissions by sixty percent.
Demographic problems in the Enriched World make taxation rises dubious as a policy recommendation for the US and Canada. What will reduce their emissions without pushing them further into a demographic mire and eroding their ability to accept people from overpopulated Australia is unclear and I will not attempt such here.

However, with Australia, raising energy prices is an absolute necessity. Even a 60 percent reduction would put Australia’s emissions in the range of most Enriched countries, when the allowable value based upon soil available phosphorus cannot be higher than 5 percent the Enriched World average, or about 0.4 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person per year, or about 1.5 percent of Australia’s current per capita emissions.

The question that Calbrick and Gutton need to ask is what energy price would reduce Australia’s emissions by the requisite 98.5 percent?? It might not, in fact, be as high as the extreme prices described on 24 April 2008 in the Sunday Times; indeed, political problems might step in at such high energy prices. Nonetheless, it would certainly be higher than the most expensive Enriched World nations, and such high prices would potentially have even more economic and ecological benefits than respectable emissions for by far the worst offender in greenhouse emissions.


Anonymous said...

what is your means of calculating the "required" amount for Australian emissions? it is not deducible from a reading of Zhang et al.!?

jpbenney said...

Essentially, it means the emissions that the soil’s phosphate reserve can hold.

Given that the total available phosphorus of Australian soils, subject to 300,000,000 years of weathering since well before the dinosaurs, is about one-thirtieth than of soils of Eurasia and the Americas, if Zhang is right then Australia’s per capita emissions have to be at least proportionately smaller.